Although it has been several months since the heavy rains flooded sections of Lake County, Warren's course has still not fully recovered. As a result, we received a free chance to race at home on Tuesday. (Don't worry--they have figured out a solution for the Blue Devil Invite next Saturday; the course is flatter and ends in the football stadium). Going into this race, we had beaten Warren at Deerfield (although I suspect they were not at full strength), and we had lost to Libertyville at Lake County and the Rebel Invite; Libertyville's #1 runner won both of these competitive races with ease, so I knew that we would have a challenge on our home course.
Our mission was simple: run the first mile for the team; use the four "go zones" in the second mile to help work on our splits; and focus on being competitive in the last mile.
Here's what I saw:
Our first mile was solid. We got out well across the board! Our top runners ran solid splits in the mid 6s to 7s. Realistically, Janelle, Cynthia, Vic, Steff, Di, and Taylor can and should go out sub-7. Let's make this a goal for our Tuesday meet. Our next group--Naya, Sarah, Klyde, Crizaber, Kate, and Alexia were all in the 8s for the first mile. Nearly everyone in this group ran a PR, and it is in part due to their aggressive starts. Addy, Sarah M., Delilah, Noel, and Elyssa all had aggressive starts as well which resulted in LPRs for all of these young runners! Finally, Aja, Charmaine, Karen, Lindsey, and Ashley all got out much faster than in the past, resulting in some dramatic time drops for new LPRs.
We had several bees who either went negative for mile two (Kelsey), or did not drop off more than 20 seconds (Vic, Cynthia, Taylor, Alexia). It MUST be our goal to make this list grow in the next race. Please look at the split sheet below to see how you did split-wise. Slowing down more than 20 seconds during mile two signals a need for more focus during this segment of the race. This is the toughest part of the race: your legs are tired, the finish is not yet in sight, and your mind is screaming to your body to slow down. You must decide that you are going to override your brain. There are many techniques we have discussed to work through this struggle: think of a song lyric that is up tempo, use pre-determined "go zones" to pick up your pace, count your steps, focus on a person to catch, focus on a person that you will dedicate that mile to, think about your goal and acknowledge that the temporary pain is worthwhile to reach that goal. I challenge you to try one or more of these during mile two on Tuesday.
I have mixed feelings about our final mile, and specifically our final 500 meters. Yes, most of you brought your split back down for the final mile, but please know that it is not a true mile (it's actually .98). I stood near the "Sectional Loop" and watched you all enter that section and finish your races. Far too many of you missed the small downhill opportunity that leads into the 400 mark. At this point, many Warren and Libertyville girls were using that section to their advantage and making moves on us ON OUR HOME COURSE. Again, this is an area that we need to learn from and improve upon. When we are back at our course, we need to own that section. In the meantime, I need you to think about how we end our runs--we either do a workout where the last interval is supposed to be the fastest, or we do strides on the track. Both of these are meant to remind you that you can run fast when you are tired. You need to start believing that and putting it into your races, too! Again, make this a focus on Tuesday!
Yes, we have work to do, but we also have many successes to celebrate from this race. First, we had SEVENTEEN LPRs and TWO SPRs. That means nineteen out of the twenty-six racers made a huge improvement--that is outstanding! Checkout the split sheet below to see how awesome your teammates are and to see your own splits. Second, Addy, Sarah M., and Delilah all broke 30 minutes for the first time. That is an awesome breakthrough! And finally, Kelsey ran an outstanding race by running negative splits each mile, and earning the #2 spot on our all-time Top Ten Board for our course. This did not just "happen." Kelsey had a race plan, and she followed it; the plan did NOT involve times. Instead, she focused on running with Libertyville's top runner and using the "go zones" during mile two. The result was a speedy time and a great finish. Don't forget about my story about Kristen Whiteside--hard work over time pays off. Don't limit yourself goal-wise, and don't assume that big races like Kelsey's are just "easy for other people." Every great race and every success story is the result of mental toughness, dedication, and focus. Every single one of you is capable of those three traits. So let's go! :)
This is a busy week with two races and two morning practices. You MUST commit to getting rest so that we can be successful. Tuesday we are at Lakewood (our second shot at this course) against a strong Lake Zurich team and a feisty Waukegan team. Let's not underestimate either team, and let's use our knowledge of the course to improve our racing skills. Wednesday is an early release day at school, so we are going to run in the morning so that you can all go home at 12:40. Sleep is key here! Coaches will provide breakfast Wednesday. We will push our workout to Thursday this week, and conclude our training with morning practice on Friday morning. Saturday is at Warren's updated course at the O'Plaine Campus, which should be fast. Frosh/Soph races at 9:00 (3 team trophies and 1-10 medals); Varsity at 10:20 (5 team trophies, 1-10 individual trophies, and 11-30 medals); JV/Open at 11:40 (3 team trophies and 1-10 medals). Please let your fans know that there are NO dogs allowed at the course. This year's race t-shirt is sky blue and costs $15.